91 discoveries of an American traveling & living in Asia

07 June 2017 [Redding, California]

Every so often I take a few moments and recall, “where was I a year ago and what did I journal about?”
I found this nugget. It was 150 days into the wild adventure. Now since this was a year ago (which I can’t get over how crazy that is to me), I thought it’d be fun to share it with you now.
At the time I only made it to writing 91 things, and not 150 like I intended.
With that, here are 91 things from my perspective & experiences half-way through the year last year. At this time my feet had walked in 7 countries.
I hope it brings you some smiles like it brought me. 🙂

8 June 2016 [Almaty, Kazakhstan]

In honor of being on this wild and crazy ride for 150 days, I will share 150 things with you!




1. Riding on a sleeper bus through Kazakhstan on half-paved, bumpy road proves to be laughter inducing after riding, waiting, stopping, going through immigration, waiting for a flat tire to be replaced, riding and waiting all within the span of 24 hours.

2. Expect loads of rice in your diet when visiting southeast Asia.

3. Have toilet paper or tissue with you at all times; don’t expect the stall to provide.

4. Mentally prepare yourself for travel days. After travelling by train, ferry, and bus to our first debrief at end of month 1, we arrived at our destination after 30+ hours of travel.

5. It’s okay to be tired. Papa just told me this very recently and I needed to hear him say it.

6. Be willing to share. Whether it’s water, snacks, chocolate, books, shampoo or bed. When traveling with 30+ people, you must be willing to adapt this into your lifestyle “What’s mine is yours.”

7. When fruit is available & affordable- buy it. You’ll want it later.

8. Do not underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. Go to bed early if you must. Be good to your body!

9. Postcards! Send a few to your fambam and close friends. And to yourself to read when you get back. 🙂

10. Be thankful when you get a hot shower.

11. Stare at the beautiful landscape a minute longer. With your mouth open.

12. Make a goal to laugh at least once a day.

13. Be ready to be misunderstood.

14. Share what is on your heart or in your head.

15. Eat what the locals eat.

16. Do things that bring you life and rest. // Three weeks ago when we had our debrief, our mentor said “write down 3-5 things that bring you rest and do those things this week.” One of my things was going to a coffee shop. So I went…three times. Haha! Which leads into my next thing…

17. It’s okay to miss things from home! And…

18. Treat yourself. // I felt bad the first time I went to Starbucks 3 weeks ago [because it was not cheap AND I said when I left the States I wouldn’t go there for a year.] First I felt guilty because I broke my goal. BUT it brought me rest and life, truly! So I stopped beating myself up and went back 2 more times. Haha!

19. Don’t be so hard on yourself. // I’m still learning this and I think it may just be a lifelong learning.

20. Don’t stop getting to know people. // In my head I think, “I’ve been with these people for 5 months, surely I know alot about them.” When really I don’t know them. Another lifelong learning.

21. Western China is magnificently beautiful.

22. I can live without my phone for 150+ days! But only because I am traveling with others who have their phones. It truly is a cellular device world, and there’s no going back.

23. Don’t assume a local doesn’t know English. Ask!

24. Wear clothes that boost your self-esteem. // It makes a world of a difference when I’m not feeling the greatest to have an outfit that I feel pretty in.

25. Be comfortable not wearing makeup. But also…

26. Wear it when you want to feel pretty or need to take some extra time to feel beautiful.

27. Exercise. // I wish I was more self-disciplined in this, but it’s normal life and I struggle in this area. But when I succeed and run or do 20 minutes of core workout, I feel so much better. Treat your body right! Use those muscles Papa gave you. [talking to myself right now]

28. Smile! It makes the world a better place. Haha

29. Make up jokes, even if you are the only one who laughs at them. // Month 2 in Thailand, I told our contact Michael 2 fish jokes and it snowballed from there. He laughed so hard at the jokes it encouraged me to tell him more. Then he started making up fish jokes, as did I. Now, I make up fish jokes and most of them don’t make sense. Haha! But I laugh at them every time.

30. It’s okay to miss comforts of home.

31. Walk to explore a place.

32. Not many people in China speak English, but be prepared for them to speak to you whether you understand them or not.

33. See people, wherever you are.

34. Keep a journal.

35. Take photos.

36. Make lists of thankfulness.

37. I am thankful for air conditioning and fans.

38. I am thankful to have technology to contact people thousands of miles away.

39. I am thankful for friends and family encouraging me. [I need that outside perspective more than I thought I knew]

40. I am thankful to have teammates that have guitars. // I have played more in the past couple months than I have the past 2 years.

41. I am thankful for flip flops.

42. I am thankful for shade trees provide.

43. I am thankful for pillow and bed. // I have slept on a bed about 4 out of the past 5 months.

44. I am thankful for naps.

45. I am thankful for grocery stores. // more often than not, I don’t get to make my own food, but these next few days in Kazakhstan I will get to make my own food!

46. I am thankful for pen and paper. // even though I have about 4 journals filled and am having to pack around, I am thankful I can process things through pen and paper.

47. I am thankful for fresh air.

48. I am thankful for contacts.

49. I am thankful for western toilets.

50. I am thankful for legs, knees and feet to walk.

51. I am thankful for moments to play with kiddos.

52. I am thankful for laughter.

53. I am thankful for deodorant.

54. I am thankful for toothpaste.

55. I am thankful for filtered water.

56. I am thankful for parks.

57. I am thankful for mountains.

58. I am thankful for window seats.

59. I am thankful for airplanes. // boy do they make traveling so much quicker than by land.

60. I am thankful for safe travel.

61. I am thankful for music.

62. I am thankful the very long travel hours have made the short travel hours seem easy and no big deal.

63. I am thankful for my health.

64. I am thankful I can read.

65. I am thankful for food.

66. I am thankful for chapstick.

67. I am thankful for roof over my head.

68. I am thankful I get to experience different cultures and people.

69. I am thankful for coffee.

70. I am thankful for chocolate.

71. I am thankful for ice cream.

72. I am thankful for nuts.

73. I am thankful for fruit.

74. I am thankful for the hard things, though it’s not easy to navigate and figure out and I get in my head too much, it’s part of this whole life and I grow. Right?

75. I am thankful I am counting the days as I go. It’s a good way for me to positively remember and mark this journey.

76. I am learning hello and thank you in the language as we go. Let’s see if I remember…

77. Indonesia :: Hallo + Hatar Nahun/Terimakasi

78. Thailand :: Sawadee-ka [Thai] Mingla-ba [Burmese] + Kapun-ka [Thai]

79. India :: Namaste

80. Nepal :: Namaste/Jia-ma-shee

81. China :: Nihao + Shei-shei

82. Kazakhstan :: Prevyet/Zdratsvuyte + Spaseeba

83. I am thankful for fast internet

84. I am thankful for the people we have met that speak English.

85. I appreciate the diversity of Almaty, Kazakhstan.

86. If you visit China, be prepared to smell cigarette smoke quite frequently. Many Chinese smoke, and there are not designated smoking areas.

87. Riding on a train through China :: have many snacks for the long journey. Especially that cup/bowl of instant noodles.

88. Common snacks found in China :: chicken feet, mystery meat & peanuts.

89. Humans are the same around the world. Surroundings, language and such are different, but we’re all the same.

90. I have learned to appreciate baby wipes.

91. Sign language can work quite well; don’t be limited by language barrier.



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